Can a trucker working for a large trucking company be excluded from the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? The answer is possibly yes, but drivers who know the law may be able to preserve their rights.
The FMLA only covers employees that work within 75 miles of a company worksite that employs 50 or more people. Some trucking companies have tried to exclude their employees from the FMLA by getting creative with the definition of a “worksite.” This issue has been litigated and the courts are clear about what constitutes a worksite.
In the case of Cobb v. Contract Transport, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which covers Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, gave its interpretation of the Department of Labor’s regulations about the definition of a worksite. The court determined that a worksite (as defined by the FMLA) is a terminal that is owned and operated by the company. For example, if a driver reports to a truck stop but is dispatched out of company headquarters, a court that follows the Cobb decision would find the driver’s worksite to be company headquarters where the driver is dispatched. This would likely make the driver eligible for FMLA. You can read full text of the law the court cited here: 29 CFR § 825.111.
Of course, if a driver is dispatched out of a small satellite terminal, then a court could determine that the smaller facility is the true worksite and the employer may be able to exclude the driver from FMLA. The reason for this is that if a driver has to miss work for extended period of time, he or she may inconvenience the company if they would not have enough drivers dispatched out of that small terminal to cover all their routes.